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PLANNING: Your Wedding Day Timeline

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Want to be sure your timeline is perfect so you get the best photos possible AND know nothing is forgotten? Read on, friends because...


I'm going to start you off with two basic timelines: #1 - Without a First Look #2 - With a First Look.

And then we're going to dive into the little details you may not be aware would need to be planned for, which would otherwise leave you hungry, stranded, or having a day different (and a bit more stressful) than you expected. These timelines DO NOT include extra times needed if you have a videographer. Having a videographer would require some extra time during Getting Ready and Portraits - especially if you plan to read your vows ahead of time) to be sure all video is captured as well.
The Basics Ceremony: To avoid the sun being at it's full power, often creating "split lighting" - when you're in half sun and half shade, creating super harsh shadows. This can make for an uncomfortable, very squinty time for you and your love and photos that are difficult to capture nicely. Example here:

To avoid what you see above, schedule your ceremony no more than 90 minutes before sunset, 75 minutes being optimal. Selecting a shaded ceremony spot would be a VERY smart thing to consider !

Portraits: It's best to set aside about an hour (depending on the amount of family members you'll be photographing) for your Family Portraits, Bridal Party and Bride + Groom Portraits. This is usually done while your guests enjoy Cocktail Hour. This period would start immediately after the ceremony with Family, then the full Bridal Party and end with Bride + Groom (or Bride + Bride or Groom + Groom) Portraits through about 10 minutes after sunset. Immediately following would be your Grand Entrance into the Reception.
Timeline Without A First Look
On this momentous day you decided to stick with tradition by seeing each other for the first time that day while you and your love are walking down or standing at the end of the aisle. To a photographer this means your Bride + Groom Portraits, Family Portraits, and Full Bridal Party Portraits ALL need to be taken after your Ceremony! This timeline is set with a sunset at 6:00. 3:00-4:00 - Getting Ready, Details, Individual Portraits, Bride w/Bridal Party, Groom w/Groomsmen 4:25 - Line up for Ceremony 4:30 - Ceremony Begins 4:45 - Ceremony Ends, Cocktail Hour begins 4:45 - 5:30 - Family Portraits, Full Bridal Party Portraits, Bride + Groom Portraits 5:35 - Grand Entrance (and maybe First Dance) 5:50-6:10 - Sunset Portraits 6:15 - End - Reception

If you want to see the Pro's and Con's of a First Look, check out my blog - "PLANNING: First Look - To Do or Not To Do"

Timeline With A First Look

Don't like the idea of sobbing in front of all of your guests during the ceremony? Do you want some time to spend at Cocktail Hour with your guests? Or maybe you want to use an entire hour on capturing epic portraits of you and your love. In that case, try out this timeline! This timeline is also set with a sunset at 6:00 3:00-4:00 - Getting Ready, Details, Individual Portraits, Bride w/Bridesmaids, Groom w/Groomsmen 4:10 - First Look 4:15-5:00 - Entire Bridal Party, some Bride + Groom Portraits, Close Family Portraits 5:10 - Line up for Ceremony 5:15 - Ceremony Begins 5:30-6:10 - Cocktail Hour. Remaining Family Portraits, Bride + Groom Portraits, Sunset Bride + Groom Portraits 6:15-End - Grand Entrance & Reception

Evvvvvverything Else
Okay, sorry to shock you, this list may be longer than you would think!
Set the times/plans for: Hair/Makeup Artist arrival Bride & Bridal party for hair/makeup Transportation arrival Who brings the dress, rings, etc & when Bride & Bridal Party to venue Groom & Groomsmen to venue Lunch for Bride, Groom and Bridal Party Point of contact to gather bridal details for photos (bouquet, shoes, rings, vows) Flower Arrival to Venue
Photographer to Venue DJ to Venue Family to Venue Guests to Venue Food to Venue Bartender to Venue
Desert Vendor to Venue Bridesmaids into dresses Bride into dress Freshen Up (deodorant, brush teeth, makeup retouch) (Ceremony) Appetizer & Drink for Bride + Groom post ceremony First Dances Toasts Dance floor opens Cake Cutting Bouquet Toss Garter Toss Bar Close Photogs leave Venue Close Transportation to leave

Planning is Key!

If you don't want to deal with figuring details out during your important day, do it ahead of time and save yourself the headache!!
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